“Thoughts & Faith”, Fr. Stevan Bauman - 8/6/2023


Martyr Christina of Tyre (300), Holy Martyrs and Passion-bearers Boris and Gleb of Russia (1015)
1 Corinthians 3:9,13,16.

“For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.”
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”
“Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”

Can we believe such good things about ourselves?
Can we believe what God says about us in Scripture?
Can we believe the witness and words of the Saints?
Are we willing to be changed into Christians, little Christs, by the grace of God?
Or do we choose to believe our own self-limiting thoughts and opinions about ourselves, either self-deprecating or self-exalting, depressing or prideful?

If we make that choice, we become, in a real sense, creators of our own worldly selves, with even a measure of control over our “creation.” But it’s ultimately a very isolating choice.

If, on the other hand, we sacrifice that sort of self-determination, and instead accept God’s actions in our lives there is no limit to what He can do in and with us. Here’s an example of how it works.
Last night, part way through the reading of the Gospel at Matins, I realized that not only was I not paying any attention whatsoever to the reading, but I was consumed by a totally imaginary “play” in which glory would come to me, rather than to God. In Church, during the Gospel!

This is an example of how the audacious demons try to separate us from God. I could have thought, How could I, a priest, do such a thing? That’s terrible, I’m a terrible person… That’s the downward spiral we can get caught in. But you don’t need to.

Because what else does it show? It’s an excellent example of how our Guardian Angels alert us. I became aware of what was going on, and thought, ah, you audacious crafty demon, you caught me because of my weakness, and I immediately turned my attention to the reading, rather than to more demonic thoughts! I chose to listen to the Gospel according to John, rather than the one according to misguided Stevan!

You see, even when we have been alerted, we still have the freedom to choose which thought path to follow. We may make a habitual, downward trending choice rather than an uplifting one. Our circumstances may be dire and not change, but even then, we’re free to lift our gaze to the Godliness and beauty around us. Circumstances don’t separate us from Him.

Christina of Tyre and brothers Boris and Gleb showed this. They were harbingers, forerunners, of a new, sacrificial, way of life and worship: Christianity. Christina, daughter of a General or Governor in Syria died in 300. Princes Boris and Gleb, sons of St. Vladimir, in Kievan Rus in 1015.
To each was revealed a new way, which they accepted, rejecting the old ways and sealing their adoption of the new with their lives.

Their self-sacrificing willingness to give all for Christ announced the way God was working in their minds and hearts. How is He working in yours? Has your embrace of Orthodox Christianity turned you from your old objects of compulsion, passion and service?

In Matins:
O all-praised ones, having first submitted the royal purple of your kingship to Christ, and acknowledged Him as true God and King of all, ye rejected the vain gods of your ancestors. Wherefore, Christ hath enriched you with gifts of miracles, and the Savior of our souls, Who is glorious in His saints, hath given you eternal crowns instead of those which pass away.

Christina of Tyre

Christina was born to a pagan father who wished for her to become a pagan priestess and, to accomplish this, locked her in a tower where he had set up idols and ordered her to offer incense to them.

We are, it sometimes seems, living in such a room, surrounded by idols, “required” to offer incense to various aspects of the world to keep our job, our social standing, our desires, our friends…
Instead, Christina meditated on the beauty of creation and the therefore infinite beauty of its Creator.

Her “imprisonment” was a blessing.
She was convinced that the voiceless and inanimate idols in her room could not create anything, being themselves created by human hands.

We too know this about the idols we serve, and yet….
She began to pray to the One God with tears, entreating Him to reveal Himself, which He did through an angel who instructed her in the true faith in Christ.

We have been instructed.

Christina smashed all the idols in her room and threw them out the window. Shortly thereafter, Christina’s father found that she had destroyed the idols. Then began a series of tortures, from each of which she was healed. Saint Christina gave up her soul after her heart was pierced by soldiers' lances.

Because of all the tortures, she is known as a Great-Martyr. Very few are called to this path. We are unlikely to suffer anything like this, yet the comparatively little things we would do well to part from, our habits and desires, can seem as large and precious as life itself. We have incorporated them into our identity. How can we give them up? Would I still be me? Of course! But it is a change.

Boris and Gleb

Boris and Gleb were the sons of Prince Vladimir, the baptizer of the Russian people.
Prior to his death, St. Vladimir divided up the state among all of his sons and after his death the eldest son, Sviatopolk, became Prince of Kiev. He was jealous and wanted yet more power, and he planned to kill his brothers in order to gain their territories.

He sent assassins to kill Boris. When they arrived, they heard him chanting psalms and praying before an icon of Christ. He asked the Lord to strengthen him for the suffering he was about to endure. He also prayed for Sviatopolk, asking God not to count this against him as sin. Then he lay down upon his couch, and the assassins stabbed him with their lances.

After Sviatopolk had killed Boris, he sent Gleb a message saying that their father was ill and wished to see him. As he was on his way, he received word that their father had died and that Sviatopolk had murdered Boris.

St Gleb wept for his father and brother and was lamenting them when the assassins arrived. They seized his boat and drew their weapons, but it was Gleb's cook who stabbed him with a knife. Later, he was buried beside St Boris in the church of St Basil.

Killed, if only indirectly, by their own kin, these three saints endured not only physical pain and death, but the pain of knowing that it came by the order, if not the hand, of their own father or brother. Truly the world hated them without a cause as it did the Lord.

The holy Passion-bearers Boris and Gleb were the first Russian saints glorified by the Russian and Byzantine Churches.

All three of these saints followed Christ and showed their people the highest calling of the Faith they had accepted just as Christianity was being introduced and disseminated in their land and among their people.

We are also pioneers of Orthodoxy in our land. Each day we show Christianity, or something else, to numerous people, by the way we speak and act. We’re blind to most of it, often because we go about our business at home and outside the home with just a worldly purpose in mind.

I read about a sign a Protestant church put up at the exit from the church parking lot: “You are now entering the Mission Field!” Perhaps we should have such a sign by our bed, or by the door: “You are going forth as a missionary for Christ.”
Perhaps you’ve gone shopping. Have you regarded the cashier as part of the cash register? They are real people and often have name tags. You could say something to them, using their name.

Have you passed a beggar and clutched your wallet a little bit tighter?

Have you thought to return a call or to visit or to pray for someone, but didn’t because…
But Father, I never know what to say, we don’t have much money, I don’t have time, …
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

No, we can’t do this by ourselves alone. But we are not alone. Even in the midst of the tempest, when the disciples were afraid and doubted what they saw. They heard, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.

The disciples saw Christ upon the water. We receive Him into our very bodies. May we also, pioneers of Orthodoxy in our city, not doubt, but be grateful for all that we have been given and go forth every day as distributors of it.
1 Corinthians 3:9-17
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Matthew 14:22-34
22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away.
23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.
24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.
25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased.
33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
34 And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret.


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